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USG People's France & Germany businesses driving growth in Q2

USG People saw revenue grow 6.1% in the second quarter to &euro 618.6 million (Q2 2014: &euro 583.3 million). Revenue per working day increased 7.7%. Acquisitions had a positive effect on growth of 0.2%. In the Netherlands revenue growth accelerated to 9.0% from 3.7% in the previous quarter. In Belgium revenue per working day rose 9.0%, with growth in line with the previous quarter. France and Germany saw growth accelerate: in France revenue per working day rose by 6.3% (Q1 2015: 5.7%) while in Germany the increase was 4.6% (Q1 2015: 0.9%). The growth of USG People in France and Germany once again outpaced market growth.

The gross result amounted to &euro 123.7 million in the second quarter (Q2 2014: &euro 118.1 million). As a percentage of revenue the gross margin was 20.0% (Q2 2014: 20.2%). Revenue from recruitment and selection was lower than a year earlier, mainly due to the termination of activities outside the core countries. Revenue from recruitment and selection accounted for 0.9% of total group revenue in the second quarter (Q2 2014: 1.0%) this decline had a negative impact of 10 basis points on the group gross margin.

Underlying EBITA rose 26% to &euro 19.4 million (Q2 2014: &euro 15.4 million). The underlying EBITA margin increased to 3.1% compared to 2.6% in the same quarter last year. Reported EBITA including non-recurring effects amounted to &euro 14.9 million.

General Staffing achieved increased revenue of &euro 378.5 million in the second quarter (Q2 2014: &euro 351.1 million). Revenue per working day rose 9.4% compared to the year-earlier quarter. In the Netherlands revenue growth at Start People increased during the quarter to 12.4% (Q1 2015: 4.5%), putting growth in line with market growth.

Start People in Belgium reported a 9.4% rise in revenue per working day compared to a year earlier. Year-on-year growth remained strong despite a significantly higher comparison base. Last year Start People in Belgium achieved growth of 11.7% in the second quarter. In France growth at Start People continued to outpace the market, with revenue per working day rising 6.2% in the second quarter compared to a year earlier. Growth once again accelerated compared to the preceding quarter, when revenue per working day increased by 5.4%.

The gross margin fell compared to the first quarter as a result of the impact of public holidays. In Belgium in particular the large number of public holidays means there is always a seasonal impact on the gross margin in the second quarter, but the impact this year was larger than last year. Mix and pricing effects had a slight positive impact. Expenses in Belgium and France increased to enable these countries to sustain further growth. Underlying EBITA amounted to &euro 12.6 million in the second quarter (Q2 2014: &euro 12.6 million). The EBITA margin was 3.3% (Q2 2014: 3.6%).

Specialist Staffing generated increased revenue of &euro 199.7 million in the second quarter (Q2 2014: &euro 194.0 million). In the core countries revenue per working day rose by 5.3% year-on-year. In the Netherlands revenue per working day increased 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. The growth rate was below the market level, mainly due to higher growth in the second quarter of last year, when Specialist Staffing achieved revenue growth of 15.7% compared to market growth of 5%. Secretary Plus in the Netherlands registered a strong acceleration of growth, with revenue rising by 36.0% compared to last year (Q1 2015: 16.1%). In Belgium revenue per working day at Specialist Staffing increased by 7.6%, while year-on-year growth at Unique was 7.0% and at Secretary Plus 10.8%.

In Germany revenue rose 4.3% compared to the same quarter last year. Revenue at Unique rose by 4.3% while Secretary Plus achieved growth of 4.0% compared to last year. The gross margin rose compared to the year-earlier period, mainly due to a margin increase in the Netherlands as a result of stronger revenue in the SME segment. In Belgium growth was strongest among volume clients, resulting in a slight drop in the gross margin here. Operating expenses were lower compared to the second quarter of last year. Underlying EBITA at Specialist Staffing improved to &euro 10.1 million (Q2 2014: &euro 6.1 million). The EBITA margin rose to 5.1% (Q2 2014: 3.1%).

Revenue at USG Professionals rose to &euro 37.4 million (Q2 2014: &euro 36.8 million). Revenue per working day was up 3.8%. In the Netherlands revenue per working day rose by 3.8% and in Belgium the increase was 2.6%. Underlying EBITA rose to &euro 1.2 million (Q2 2014: &euro 0.3 million). The EBITA margin was up at 3.2% (Q2 2014: 0.8%).

Revenue at Online Business Solutions continued to rise to &euro 3.0 million in the second quarter (Q2 2014: &euro 1.4 million). 

“In the second quarter we managed to further accelerate our growth,” said Rob Zandbergen, CEO of USG People. “Market conditions in our countries continue to develop favourably. The upward trend in demand for our services continued both for large clients and in the small and medium-sized business (SME) segment. Growth is clearly continuing to pick up in the SME segment and there was also further growth at Professionals. In the Netherlands and Belgium our growth at the end of the quarter was in line with the market, while growth also accelerated in France and Germany, where we outperformed the market. Excluding seasonal effects such as the impact of public holidays the gross margin remained stable compared to the previous quarter. On balance the growth resulted in a strong increase in our underlying EBITA, which rose by 26%. We expect the positive trend to continue in the second half of 2015.”

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